Sunday, March 17, 2013

Rocking Washington, D.C.

 My dear friend, Claudia, and I spent the weekend in Washington, D.C.

 We spent our first full day in D.C. touring the city by foot and eating our way across town.
 The second day, we (and Claudia's cousin, Diana, a D.C. local) participated in the Washington, D.C. Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon.  We snapped this shot minutes before the start.
 The after picture.  

We opted to take this picture on the metro ride home as we were too cold to pose outside!

Later in the day, we lounged on chaise chairs next to the Anacostia River to relax our sore legs.

Almost twenty years ago, while in college, I spent a semester in Washington, D.C.  I have fond memories of those months I lived in our nation's capital.  I adored the fast pace of the city and the seemingly endless array of activities within walking distance of my front door.  As my semester in D.C. came to a close, I certainly anticipated I would revisit the city soon.

This weekend, I finally came back − nearly two decades later − and with my friend, Claudia.

When we landed in D.C., memories flooded back.  I recalled familiar metro stops and favorite tourist spots.  I anticipated easily slipping back into urban life and falling back in love with the city I've missed.

Instead, at first, we felt overwhelmed.  It was as if two country bumpkins were transported from Mayberry into the "big city."  We became anxious on the Metro.  The pace and mass of pedestrian traffic was staggering.  Our eyes were flooded with unfamiliar sights: street musicians, beggars, foreign tourists, armed military guards. 

But then things started to change.

After we adjusted to our urban culture shock, we started to appreciate Washington, D.C. for what it is.  It's a place where patriotism and history converge to provide the most magnificent tourist experience.

Our first full day in the city, we traveled over to the Capital and then continued along the National Mall, walking by a collection of tourist hot spots: the Smithsonian, the White House, the Vietnam War Memorial, and the Washington Monument.  We landed at the Lincoln Memorial and plopped ourselves down on the steps, grateful to finally find rest and with a breathtaking view.

The next day, we lined up for the Rock 'n Roll Washington, D.C. Half Marathon.  The race started along the National Mall.  Then, the course wound around the Lincoln Memorial and the White House.  We surged past the Kennedy Center.  During the final miles, the Capital formed the backdrop of our final sprint.  It was an amazing race experience and certainly one that won't easily be duplicated.

As our weekend wrapped up and I gazed at the Capital and the monuments for the last time, I wondered if D.C. locals find such images to be commonplace.  I certainly didn't.  I was grateful that, two decades later, I could gaze upon these once familiar sights with an even greater appreciation.

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